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Why every manager should modernise IBM I applications

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Liliane Van Winckel
Expert Software Engineer, EASI

Investing in a system that is working perfectly seems unnecessary. Still, danger lurks for those who don't. I will tell you why.

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Realise that you are spoiled

With respect to IBM i applications, it seems as if time has stood still in some companies. Don't laugh, for that makes perfect sense. 

After all, IBM works with a ‘protection of investment’. This means that an application you developed in 1989 is still supported today.

That is unique in the world of IT, especially compared to companies like Apple or Microsoft, that force users to evolve after a certain time.


Where does the danger lie?

In doing nothing. For many companies, IBM i applications are the invisible heart of their organisation.

For example, imagine a platform that has been created to receive orders. If that platform is never modernised in 30 years, the company will inevitably be confronted with business needs it can no longer meet.

Things that seem so obvious in today's world, like web-based access via an application, ordering online, retrieving stock inventories, may be impossible via an outdated version.

Risk management

Modernisation can also be a smart way of managing risk. That may sound far-fetched, but it’s not. Often, the developers who have a good command of the application are not the youngest of the bunch. When you take on new staff, it takes a lot of time and effort to teach them how to use the company's applications. Many times, the programming styles that are used are unknown to your new employees, which may cause them to develop an antipathy towards them.

And don't forget the end-users! The limited navigation capabilities of the typical black-green screens make it harder for new end-users to be trained. Loss of time is guaranteed. It is therefore no surprise that some end-users are less than eager to get on-board.


In short, in order to ensure a smooth transition, reduce training time and attract young developers, a modernisation project may be just what you need.

Are you convinced that it is necessary to finally upgrade your applications? Then please read my article next week, in which I explain the best way to start doing so.

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